Why Young Jews Are Leaving Judaism

April 19, 2018

Because Their Rabbis Will Not Criticize Israel


In a letter to The Forward (Feb. 14, 2018), Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder and director of the Shalom Center and a leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, assesses the reason for thealienation from Judaism of increasing numbers of young people.


He writes that, “The point about the decline of religious spiritual connection between many younger Jews and the Jewish community is that almost all the ‘religious’ institutions refuse to apply the prophetic vision to the government of Israel even whenthey apply it to the U.S. Government (and even that is weak).”




Rabbi Waskow, who has taught at the Reconstructionist RabbinicalSeminary and at Swarthmore College, Temple University,and Vassar College, points out that, “Many younger Jews — J Street, Open Hillel, especially IfNotNow — are affirming and strengthening their Jewish identity, even drawing strongly on religious symbols and festivals, when they criticize Israel and its lackeys and toadies in the U.S. Their distancing from ‘official’religion in the synagogues is connected with those synagogues’
kow-towing to the Israeli government.”


He asks: “Where are the rabbis who urge their congregants NOT to give to the federations that funnel money to support ofthe Netanyahu government and its Occupation, but to give it instead to the New Israel Fund and its support of gutsy critical Israelis — or to put their would-be gifts to Israel in an escrow fund to be released only with the end of the Occupation and the emergence of a viable independent Palestine alongside Israel?”


Rabbi Waskow concludes: “Where are the rabbis who say aloud that obeisance to the Israeli government is idolatry — a religious category — and denounce it as such? The failure of religion as a Jewish focus for many young Jews is precisely becausemost of the official religious institutions will not denounce the Occupation as a violation of Torah the way they denounce Trumpery in the U.S.”


This is the price we pay for having made of  Israel an icon — a surrogate faith, surrogate synagogue, surrogate God.  
Albert Vorspan 


Naomi Wolf, a leading feminist writer (The Beauty Myth) and former advisor to President Bill Clinton, illustrated Waskow’s important point after the most egregious slaughter of Gaza Palestinians in 2014 (Operation Protective Edge 2,131 killed, 1,473 of which were civilians, 501 children and 299 women).




Here was a a woman with impeccable pro-Israel credentials, an American educated in Jerusalem schools and who spoke fluent Hebrew and who had actually hid in bomb shelters but she “stood with the people of Gaza.”


PI=gaza copy

“I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust, and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side.’ There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us.”


Wolf’s experience with institutional Judaism during this period brought her to a breaking point as it has so many American Jews who can no longer stomach the silence of the rabbinate:


“I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre in Gaza to be addressed..… Nothing. Where is God? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews..…I want no other religion than this, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.”


Naomi Wolf is a Jew with eyes wide open.


Criticize Israel? Don’t even dare

April 16, 2018

Stupid, stupid Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. It dared to stand up for journalists shot by Israeli snipers at the Gaza border. Didn’t the CJFE know that criticizing Israel is off-limits?


Now the statement expressing concern has been deep-sixed, the CJFE Communications Director, Kevin Metcalf, has been thrown under the bus, and the organization itself, thoroughly cowed at this point, is reportedly on the rocks.

So writes J.Baglow on the rabble.ca webiste.

This is typical pressure from the Zionist thought police right across Canada, ready to pounce on anybody who dares criticize the present israeli government. They do a very good job muzzling timorous politicos from every party. The worst offender of course is the Prime Minister who seems joined at the hip with  the former PM, Stephen Harper.


Harper IS


The firing of Metcalf occasioned this  response from Independent Jewish Voices Canada   http://ijvcanada.org a group which deserves the support of Canadians who believe in justice.



Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is deeply concerned about the firing of Kevin Metcalf, a staff person at Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), following a statement he issued in the name of the organization condemning the recent attack on Palestinian protesters by the Israeli Defence Forces,” said Corey Balsam, Independent Jewish Voices’ National Coordinator.


The CJFE statement called on Canada, a close ally of Israel, to “defend universal principles of human rights, democracy and press freedom” and to condemn the one-sided use of military force against civilian demonstrators and members of the press in Gaza. The statement was written in response to the shooting of hundreds of protesters by Israeli snipers. Among those shot were six journalists wearing vests identifying them as members of the press. One of the wounded journalists, Yasser Murtaja, subsequently succumbed to his wounds. Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared that soldiers who fired live ammunition at the protesters and media personnel covering the demonstration “deserve a medal” and that there would be no investigation.


“With Israel’s blockade of access points to the occupied Palestinian territories, local reporters are among the few sources of information coming out of the region,” continued Balsam. “Canadian Journalists for Free Expression was right to condemn the killing of their colleagues as well as other lethal attempts to silence Palestinians’ right to protest, much as they do in other contexts.”




Other international media watchdogs have issued similar statements. Reporters Without Borders went further than the CJFE statement, accusing Israel of “deliberately shooting” journalists in Gaza. Meanwhile, the CJFE statement has been removed from their website and Metcalf, the staffer who drafted it, has been terminated from his position.


The CJFE board of directors has since issued a follow-up statement to clarify its position, noting that, while the original statement had been determined to be “overreaching”, the organization stands by its condemnation of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and its call for an investigation into the incident.


IJV believes that this clarification is insufficient and calls on CJFE to explain its decision to terminate Metcalf. “The firing of Mr. Metcalf for defending press freedom against attacks in Palestine sends the message that support for freedom of the press is contingent,” said Balsam. “We call on CJFE to reinstate Metcalf and to redouble its efforts to pressure the government of Canada to condemn Israel’s indiscriminate use of force against civilians,” he concluded.

Why didn’t you care? Why did you remain silent? The witness of Amira Hass

April 15, 2018

Amira Hass, like her journalist cohort Gideon Levy has had it with israel’s parlous democracy, its crude racism and ita absolute inability to end the extraordinary 50 year occupation.




Most North Americans are utterlly clueless about the depth and depravity of this brutal and heartless incarceration..Many Jews sadly react to criticism of Israel as mere tribalists rather than inheritors of a humanistic, universal Judaism. Very few have tasted what exiled Israeli historian Ilan Pappé calls an “antinhumane and merciless reality.”

This brave scribe dedicates his latest book, The Biggest Prison on Earth in this fashion:


“This book is dedicated to those who relentlessly tried to alert decent uman beings to the importance of not standing by and watching while millions of of people were being treated in such an inhumane way.”


His book outlines “the bureaucracy of evil while not attempting to demonize Israelis in general.” Pappé saves his withering criticism for “the Israelis who worked out the fine detail of the system…who perfected its operation namely its power to humiliate and destroy.”


This brings us to the similarly brave Amira Hass whose mother a survivor of Bergen Belsen gifted her with the admonition to never allow this indifference to become you. Never again to anybody. Like her colleague at Haaretz Gideon Levy, Hass is one of the legion that Pappé refers to above, those Israelis who refused to go along with this truly horrendous brutalization of an innocent people.




In this article below, written in the wake of merely the latest state contempt for human life, Hass raises the neuralgic question of the post holocaust era: were you just following orders? Has the good German become the good Israeli? What about the nuremberg defense?



Like Levy’s earlier article this essay of Hass is searing in its prophetic intensity and brave in its call for a society to awake from its slumber


I Was Just Following Orders’: What Will You Tell Your Children? April 8, 2018

‘How did you destroy villages?’ one daughter will ask. ‘How did you agree to imprison two million people?‘ another will whisper. The answers will only make their weeping louder




Maybe the day will come and young Israelis – not one or two, but an entire generation – will ask their parents: How could you? If the question is asked, our situation will already be better because it will signal the post-herd stage of the Israeli existence.


The problem is we cannot know when this will happen. In another 70 years? In another 50? How low can we sink in our choosing to go along with the herd, wicked and enjoyable in its own right? What nadir must we reach before the young people are shocked about what their parents and grandparents did and stop imitating them, an emulation that is also an upgrade of sorts.

Let us allow ourselves a minute of optimism, and assume that the question will be asked before it is too late. With just a bit more optimism, let us say they will be the 4-year-olds of today, or those who are born in another few months. Congratulations.

The question “how could you?” will split into a few sub-questions. For example: Why did you consent? You really didn’t know? Don’t talk nonsense — after all, the information was published in real time, and in abundance. You didn’t need to wait for someone to be released from a forced labor camp in Siberia and appear at the door a few months later to tell the story.

Why didn’t you care? Why did you remain silent? How could you have gone out hiking on the weekends, watch television and movies, go shopping in the new mall and work on your master’s degree in history of the gulags or run a business from your home, choose concerts and plays in London and go to the soccer game every week – and also renovate the house as if everything was normal?




The parents may be embarrassed and say: “You have to understand, it wasn’t just us. Our neighbor Adina too, who was a famous professor of the history of anti-Semitism, lived normally – between her trips abroad, conversations in the supermarket and interviews on radio and television. She too remained silent on those matters, and loved to hear the later sonatas of Beethoven and Bartok.” And then the mother will correct the father: “What’s the matter with you? She wasn’t an expert in anti-Semitism, but on species of butterflies going extinct.” The argument between the two will spill over into other arguments, and that is how they will avoid answering their daughter’s question.]




Other parents may apologize. “You must understand,” they will say. “We were afraid of terrorism.” And the children will press on: How does the fight against terrorism turn into destroying water pipes and cisterns for collecting rainwater, and quotas for drinking water for specific groups of people at a time when we were enjoying an abundance of water? The father will twist and turn and say he “was not responsible for the quota. Ask the children of Mordechai and Ori about that, and nu, what was his name, the infrastructure minister?” The son – forgive him for his interruptions, he is a teenager – will yell: But you drove the bulldozers that destroyed the cisterns. Grandpa told me about it, proudly, before he died. The father will correct him: “An excavator, not a bulldozer — and I was among the soldiers who aimed their rifles at the little buggers who didn’t throw stones at the drivers.”


The certificates of distinction for senior commanders in the IDF’s Civil Administration will be hung in the living room until the girls come and tear them off the walls in anger. How did you destroy villages and expel their residents, one daughter will sob, and her crying will only increase when she hears the answer: “I carried out orders.”




How did you keep thousands of students who wanted to study in a better university from leaving, another daughter will scream and leave home slamming the door when she hears the same answer: “I was only following orders.” How could you agree to imprison two million people, the third daughter will whisper, and she will not believe her ears when she hears her father’s answer: “I got used to it.”


How did you ban construction for them and build a luxury neighborhood for others, a daughter will bitterly ask her mother the architect, the former head of the planning and construction department? And she will answer: “The elite always deserve more. That is the historical rule. The others simply do not need what we have. And this is also what caused many of them to leave, in the end, so you can live in a spacious house with a large garden.”


Another mother will stutter that she deserves thanks for pushing the button that released a missile from a drone, that’s how they called it at first. “I was young. They classified me as a combat soldier. And they were just shapes on a screen.” Another father will admit that on the stock of his sniper rifle he carved 17 X’s, until he ran out of room. “We were children,” he will explain. “We learned to shoot, and they ran around in front of us on the other side of the fence and I wanted to prove to myself and my commanders that I was good at it.”


Another father did not carve X’s because he did not count how many died from the bombs he dropped from his plane. Yet another father will say that this is nothing compared to the numbers of them we killed in the previous wars. “This is the only proven way to keep them under control,” he will say in his scientific tone. “And this is how we caused others to leave too, so they would open up a lot of land for your prestigious university.”



How did you allow all this, a brilliant student of law and philosophy will ask his mother, the retired former president of the Supreme Court? Now she can free up her time for her hobby of growing orchids. And she will answer him: “We didn’t approve everything.” The main things you did approve, he will persist. You decided in your rulings that we were the master race. And she will answer him, while she is busy spraying the plants with distilled water: “And after all, that’s the truth.”


“Son of a b…. What a video”

April 14, 2018

Levy 11


Yesterday, a Haaretz columnist Nehemiah Shtrasler wrote a thoughtful, slightly ironic column about the stunningly obtuse Israeli sniper who got his jollies off by shooting for sport an unarmed Palestinian protestor.innocent bystander.

Today, Gideon Levy goes full bore about the same incident.


Leonard Cohen sang, “You want it dark.” Levy gives it up. With 25 years of going into the West Bank and Gaza chronicling state cruelty,  he explodes with prophetic fury and unpacks what is really going on in today’s Israel. April 12, 2018


Son of a Bitch, What a Video 

We should thank the soldiers in that video for sharing their genuine emotions and rejoicing at the sight of an unarmed Arab flying in the air after being shot


A 28-year-old Palestinian said on Wednesday that he was the man whose shooting by an Israeli sniper was captured on video and later leaked, and he denied the army’s allegations that he had been organizing a violent demonstration at the Gaza border.


The 81-second video clip, taken by a soldier, surfaced on social media on April 9 and stirred debate and censure for showing the targeting of a Palestinian who appeared to be standing still, to the sound of approving shouts and profanity by at least one Israeli soldier.


Let’s say the soldiers in that video clip didn’t cheer and hoot, using foul language. Let’s say they recited Yehuda Amichai’s poem “God has pity on kindergarten children” before kneeling to take aim at demonstrators, and that after using live fire to shoot an unarmed protester they recited “El Malei Rachamim,” the Jewish prayer for the soul of the dead, assuming the protester had been killed like dozens of others. Let’s say the soldiers were shocked, meeting later for soul-baring talks into the night to discuss values.


Let’s imagine some of them required psychological aid for trauma or post-trauma, with a few joining Breaking the Silence, confessing their deeds and repenting. And then a leftist filmmaker would make a movie about them, showing how deep was their sacrifice, how agonizing their suffering, just like in “Waltz with Bashir” or “Foxtrot.” How beautiful we could be. And then came this video and ruined everything.


Let’s say the sharpshooters were value-driven soldiers, who had to carry out their duty while suffering wrenching pangs of guilt. Would that make them better human beings? More humane? More moral? They would tug at our heartstrings much more than those lowlifes in the video. No scandal would erupt and the beautiful soldiers would continue aiming at and shooting protesters.


Half the country was shocked for a moment by the video. This was after two Fridays in which army snipers had killed and wounded hundreds of unarmed people who endangered no one, with Israel remaining silent. The country lived in peace with the massacre, justifying it in unified chorus. Then came the video and halted the celebrations for a moment. Is that how one talks? Is that how one takes photos? Not nice, soldiers. Even the campaign’s commander Avigdor Lieberman said that the soldier who took the pictures should be demoted. A miniature scandal over etiquette. Soldiers are allowed to kill and wound civilians to their hearts’ content but one doesn’t talk like that and one doesn’t film it.




One should learn from the pilots. This wouldn’t have happened to them. When they dropped a one-ton bomb on a residential building in Gaza they didn’t cheer in the cockpit and they didn’t curse. Their language is as pure as the driven snow. You won’t hear them saying: “The son of a bitch. What a clip. Wow, we got someone in the head, he flew up with his leg in the air. Go, you sons of bitches.” That’s not their style. Some of them actually squirm during the debriefing session, even though they never the see the whites of their victims’ eyes, like their brothers-in-arms, the snipers, do. Maybe that’s why pilots are more value-driven.




We should thank the soldiers behind the video for the genuine emotions they expressed so precisely, and for deciding to share their feelings, putting an end to hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness. This was a genuine joy for them, seeing an Arab flying in the air with his leg like that. It was a cause for celebration, seeing an Arab hit in the head. What did we think, that a soldier aiming at civilians and hitting one wouldn’t be happy? That he’d see them as human beings? There is no way he’d fulfill his mission that way. He has to believe that facing him are a bunch of insects running around, which he has to exterminate, or possibly terrorists that have only one thing coming to them. Otherwise, who would shoot? That work can’t be left to nerds with pierced ears.

And when one succeeds in hitting a cockroach who is also dangerous, it’s obvious that joy erupts. After all, that’s why they were brought over to the sandy hills near the fence, in order to shoot, to kill and wound. If that wasn’t the case, one could have used non-lethal methods.
The soldiers in this video did not “shoot and cry” [as some soldiers in the 1967 war claimed]. What exactly should they cry about? Israel wants them to shoot innocent civilians, the defense minister gives them a citation for every fatality and injury, their commanders tell them to use live fire against demonstrators, and our correspondents and military commentators tell us how heroic they are. So what exactly did we want? All we wanted was for them to speak politely, to not disturb our peace with their foul slurs, with “son of a bitch.”

Shoot and laugh: A sad Israeli tale

April 13, 2018


Theoretically, Israel has a free press but in reality most papers are house organs and hardly reflective of a dynamic Fourth Estate sworn to hold a government accountable.. In particular Israel Hayom, the free propaganda sheet of choice, an anti-newspaper funded by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson who is a rabid Israel-firsters is the 40% paper of choice. A great newspaper Haaretz runs at 6% and is despised by most Israelis.


Haaretz tries to lift the veil of occupation, its daily humiliation of Palestinians. Its great reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass actually go and talk to the underside of Israeli society. Its bloggers, American, Israeli and Palestinian regularly blow the mist off the fog of a militant propaganda machine.




If you value honesty and integrity, contact haaretz and support their outstanding journalism.




Below is a good example from a man whom i know not, but one with a powerful Hebrew scripture name Nehemiah (Shtrasler). Mr.Shtrasler is a Tel Aviv writer reflective of the great, decent souls who live in Israel.




In this column our man goes to town on a shocking scandal an 81-second video clip, taken by a soldier, which surfaced on social media April 9 . Here an israeli sniper, a buffoon if there ever was one, was caught laughing after picking off a nonviolent Palestinian protestor 28 year old Tamer Abu Daqqa.





Over to you Mr. Shtrasler

Only an evil heart could fail to grasp that anyone who gives an order to fire live bullets at unarmed demonstrators is giving a patently illegal order


Okay, I get it. You can’t say “I’m ashamed to be Israeli.” After saying that, you have to apologize to avoid being fired.


If so, is it okay to say I was shocked? That I couldn’t believe what I was hearing? That I felt an overwhelming nausea rising deep in my gut at hearing the number of people killed and wounded in Palestinian demonstrations near the Israel-Gaza border?


It’s legitimate to order the army to keep the demonstrators from crossing into Israel from the Gaza Strip, but it must do so by nonlethal means: water cannons, tear gas grenades and sponge-tipped bullets aimed at demonstrators’ legs. Anything but live bullets, and certainly not live bullets aimed to kill.


Anyone who gives an order to fire live bullets at unarmed demonstrators who aren’t endangering soldiers’ lives is giving a patently illegal order, one over which a black flag flies. Only an evil heart could fail to grasp this.

This week, a shocking video was published. It showed a sniper shooting a Palestinian who didn’t endanger him at all. The Palestinian in the pink shirt was a substantial distance away from the border fence, so there was no reason in the world to shoot him.


In the clip, you can see him standing for a minute, and then you see him fall, shot in the leg. And then you hear the sounds of excitement and joy from our side: “Wow, what a fabulous video, son of a bitch, he’s flying with his leg in the air; get out of here, you sons of bitches.”


The young man in pink didn’t even know he was in the sniper’s sights. You can see him roaming about without fear. He didn’t know that Israel had declared a “kill zone” of 80 to 100 meters inside Gaza’s sovereign territory, and that anyone who enters it can be killed.




Commenting on this incident, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “The sniper deserves a medal. … The IDF is the most moral army in the world.” A medal for what? For having a sophisticated rifle with telescopic sights and shooting unarmed people like sitting ducks while he himself is well concealed, at no risk at all? For an operation like this, the army deserves the accolade of the most moral army in the world? They should do a remake of “1984,” Lieberman-style.



The Gazans had several types of “weaponry.” They had slingshots, like David against Goliath. They had tires, which they burned. And they also had mirrors which they brought from home, which they used to try to blind the snipers, a tactic first used by Archimedes against the Romans 2,000 years ago. With this sophisticated weaponry from ancient times, the Gazans fought unsuccessfully against the snipers, who killed 32 of them, including photographer Yaser Murtaja, who was wearing a vest with “press” written on it in giant letters. They also wounded some 300 people with live bullets, 20 of them seriously, and another 1,000 or so with sponge-tipped bullets and tear gas.


These are numbers the mind can’t digest. We’ve apparently reached the point where human life isn’t worth a cent.


But that’s not quite true. It depends on the person.
In 2009, the book “The King’s Torah” was published. It discussed what Jewish law said about killing non-Jews. Basing itself on “proofs” from the Talmud, it claimed the Torah’s prohibition on murder applies only to Jews; killing non-Jews is permissible.


The book sparked a storm at the time and generated fierce opposition, but today it would apparently be received with complete understanding. The fact is that many politicians and pundits weren’t upset at all by either the live fire on demonstrators or the large number of people killed and wounded.


They said the Gazans “sent their children to commit acts of terror, so it’s good that we stopped them.” They said, “We left Gaza, so we aren’t to blame for anything.” They described the demonstrators as “a terrorist invasion whose goal was to destroy Israel,” adding, “Kudos to the IDF for blocking the invasion with no casualties on our side.”


And what about the unarmed civilian casualties on the other side? That’s okay. See “The King’s Torah.”

It’s a disgrace to be an Israeli these days. Disgrace accompanied by overwhelming nausea.


Dublin mayor banned from Israel

April 12, 2018

Dublin Lord Mayor beats Israel ban due to ‘spelling error’ shouts the BBC.


Imagine the “only democracy in the Middle East” bans the Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha because he supports  Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The movement has been using the same techniques as anti-apartheid campaigners who worked to bring down white minority rule in South Africa.


Imagine Toronto mayor or Canadian PM Trudeau doing something that smacks of solidarity with oppressed peoples. Horrors!




What is wrong with these Irish? Is it the beer or the water? Or is it a 50 year occupation?


Israel claims groups such as BDS are really opposed to the state’s very existence. What a crock! Israel is here to stay with much to offer the world, but a 50 year occupation of Palestinian land is not one of its gifts.


Israel has launched an investigation into how the Lord Mayor got into the country despite a ban.

The interior ministry announced on April 10 that Mícheál Mac Donncha would not be allowed to enter on account of his ties to a pro-Palestinian group which advocates boycotting Israel.


But Mr Mac Donncha tweeted that he was already in the occupied West Bank after flying into Tel Aviv’s airport.

Officials are reported to have spelt the mayor’s name wrong on a watch list.


Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said the mayor would now be given a letter upon his departure informing him that he was barred from future entry to Israel.


Why was the mayor banned? Surely he is an anti-Semite. Yes, that’s it. This libel used to work.




Israeli officials say Mr Mac Donncha, a Sinn Féin city councillor, has ties to the Dublin-based Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC). Israel’s interior minister tweeted on Tuesday that Mr Mac Donncha was coming to Israel to “incite against us”, adding: “He won’t come in!”


“Has ties to”…sounds like the old Red scare.


It supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.




In January, the IPSC was among 20 groups blacklisted by Israel’s strategic affairs ministry. Individuals holding senior positions in the organisation and those active in promoting the boycott would be denied entry, officials said.


On Monday, Dublin City Council passed two resolutions endorsing the BDS movement and calling for the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador over the killing of Palestinians at recent protests on the Gaza-Israel border – a move Israel call ed “utter nonsense” and “worthy of dark dictatorships”.


Mr Mac Donncha also announced that he would travel to the West Bank on Tuesday to attend a conference on the status of the city of Jerusalem at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.


The mayor condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling it “a backward step and a severe setback for the cause of peace, reconciliation and justice in Palestine and Israel”.


However, shortly afterwards the mayor tweeted to say he was already in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Hamas: “We can live in this land.”

April 11, 2018

In May 2017 Hamas accepted the formation of a Palestinian state that would fall within the borders that existed in 1967, before Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza and all of Jerusalem. Like the protestors recently at the Gaza/Israel boundary Hamas also demanded the return of refugees to their homeland a right , guaranteed in international law.



In the statement released in Doha “ it t also clarifies that Hamas’ fight is with the “Zionist project”, not with the religion of Judaism, making a distinction between those who believe in Judaism and “Zionist Israeli citizens who occupy Palestinian lands”.




Israel of course pooh poohed Hamas’s new realism of accepting Israel’s permanence but this was to be expected. Hamas is the only get out of jail card Israel has left. The Holocaust card no longer works and simply by shouting Hamas Israel hopes to end the conversation.


Hamas of course has no army, navy, air force etc and is largely cooped up in Gaza with an understandable smoldering anger at what has happened to historic Palestine. It is no threat to Israel but its moderation and political maturity is.


Hamas Official: ‘I Think We Can All Live Here in This Land – Muslims, Christians and Jews’


Israeli journalist Nir Gontarz interviewed Dr. Ahmed Yousef senior Hamas official diplomatic adviser to former Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh..

Can you tell me a little bit about Hamas’ plans for this holiday season in Israel?

Yousef:What do you mean, holiday season in Israel?

To the best of my knowledge, there’s supposed to be a march to the fence [on the Gaza-Israel border] during the Passover holiday in Israel, and after that on Independence Day, your Nakba Day.

Gontarz:Is Hamas moving from military action to civil action?


Yousef: Actually, it is not Hamas who made the decision, but the youth. The main idea was thought up by the youth. There are people who think there is no hope, no future, and that we have to do something – to remind the whole world that we as Palestinians are still suffering, we are still living in the diaspora or in refugee camps, and there’s a certain decision by the United Nations, [Resolution] UN 194, that we are trying to implement,  and to send a message to the world community that our problem is not solved and we’re still suffering, and continue to see our land being abused by the occupation, or Israelis trying to squeeze us to the corner, punishing the Palestinians, and this is something that this generation of Palestinians is not going to accept. And so they’re doing their own civil march, they don’t intend to do anything belligerent, and I think this is the message they would like to carry to the whole world, about the situation and the suffering in Gaza.




Gontarz. Can you estimate how many young people and citizens of Gaza will come to this march? Because in the Israeli media it’s being described as a huge deal.



Ahmed Yousef. I don’t know at least they will send a strong message about the disastrous situation which has been deteriorating here in Gaza because of sanctions and the fact that Gaza is under a closure,. It’s all about the message that we want to send, that Israel will get, the international community will get, and anyone who is looking, people in the region, from Arab and Muslim countries – that we Palestinians are still under occupation, and we’re still suffering under this siege. It is a crime against humanity.



Gontarz.I see. And Hamas will take part in this march? I understood that I think everyone has been invited to participate. It’s not a factional m arch. Everyone has been invited to participate and mobilize, to be part of this message that we all would like to send to the whole world.

Okay, and the plans are to cross the border to the other side?


Yousef:No, no, no, no one is talking about crossing the border. No. It will take place inside the area. It’s something that can take place near the border, not too close to the border, but it can be in the buffer zone, or near the border. We will hold various activities, singing, folklore performances, Palestinian folklore.


Gontarz: It sounds like Woodstock.


Yousef: Something like this,that would attract the attention of the media to the fact that we Palestinians are still living on this land, and are still suffering. At least that’s the message that the people in Gaza would like to send, and of course the media will cover the events, and we hope that foreign journalists will come and listen to what the Palestinians have been telling about their narrative, about the whole story


Gontarz: Is there a chance that I, as an Israeli reporter, can cross the border to Gaza and cover it?


Yousef:To be honest with you, I don’t think this is something easy to do and also I don’t think Israel will let an Israeli cross to Gaza, it’s risky for them It’s something that needs to happen within some sort of arrangement. But I don’t think it is a good idea right now because there is still tension in the relations between us.


Gontarz:Listen, usually Hamas doesn’t speak with the Israeli government. Sometimes, with the help of a third party, Hamas does speak with the Israeli government. I’m asking, would you like to convey a message to the people of Israel – to the people, not the government?


Yousef:I can tell them, look, you’ve suffered a lot as Jews around the world, and there were issues of suffering and agony in Spain or Europe. You were treated badly in Europe during the war and also during the inquisition in Spain. Don’t repeat what you have suffered. You are causing the Palestinians suffering by pushing them to the wall. This land, Palestine, is the holy land for all the people of Abrahamic faiths, who lived together through history for centuries. I think we can all live here in this land – Muslims, Christians and Jews – in this blessed land Allah chose for all the good people of Palestine, Muslims, Jews and Christians. This is my message to the Jewish community in Israel or to the Jewish people in Israel.


Gontarz:Okay, Dr. Yousef. Thank you very much for speaking with me.

Israel’s Passover Massacre

April 7, 2018



Presently the Marie Curie Fellow and Professor of International Law at Queen Mary University of London, Neve Gordon is a third generation Israeli and a former Israeli Defense Force paratrooper wounded in battle.


The author of Israel’s Occupation, (2008) Gordon like many Israelis had to leave his homeland to continue the struggle against what he calls “Israel apartheid. He has written widely all over the world on the Israel/Palestine conflict. He wrote this article on April1 for Al Jazeera.

The author laments the “social amnesia” too easily forgotten globally that Palestinians indeed have had a long history of nonviolence for generations–strikes, boycotts, work refusals, massive rallies, tax revolts, merchant strikes only to be met with brutal violent responses best described as Violence One or state violence .


A besieged people with no army, navy, air force, F-16 and Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks and guided missiles aimed particularly at the dense population of Gaza.



The Passover massacre in Gaza was by no means an exception in the long history of Palestinian resistance.


For decades Zionists have blamed the Palestinians for Israel’s ongoing colonial project. “If only the Palestinians had a Mahatma Gandhi,” many Israeli liberals have exclaimed, “then the occupation would end.”




But if one truly wished to find Palestinian Mahatma Gandhis all one needed to do is look at the images of protesters on Friday night’s news broadcasts. An estimated 30,000 Palestinians joined the nonviolent March of Return, which aimed to set up a few camps several hundred meters from the militarised fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. Their goal was to protest their incarceration in the world’s largest open-air prison as well as the massive confiscation of their ancestral land – after all, 70 percent of Gaza’s population are 1948 refugees whose families had owned land in what became Israel.


As Gaza’s residents marched towards the militarised fence, I sat with my family, reciting the Haggadah for the Passover holiday, which tells us that “In every generation, it is one’s duty to regard oneself as though he or she personally had gone out of Egypt”. In other words, while the soldiers shot live bullets at the peaceful demonstrators, these soldiers’ parents were being asked to imagine what it means to live in Gaza and what it would take to liberate oneself from such captivity.  And as my family went on to sing, “No more shall they in bondage toil, let my people go,” news sites reported that the number of Palestinians killed had reached 17, while several hundred had been wounded.



The accusation that Palestinians have failed to adopt non-violent methods of resistance, and therefore share responsibility for Israel’s ongoing subjugation and dispossession, not only completely disavows the vast asymmetry in power relations between the coloniser and colonised, but, just as importantly, fails to consider the political history of anticolonial struggles, not least the Palestinian one itself.  Indeed, it completely ignores the fact that Israel’s colonial project has been upheld through attritional, protracted and widespread violence, and, despite what certain Western media outlets might present, the Palestinians have developed a robust and long-standing tradition of non-violent resistance. Moreover, the demand to adopt a non-violent ideology completely elides the history of other liberation struggles: from Algiers to Vietnam and all the way back to South Africa.
Palestinian non-violence


Friday’s nonviolent March of Return and Israel’s response to it are by no means an exception in the long history of Palestinian resistance. The march was organised to coincide with the anniversary of Land Day, which itself commemorates that tragic day in 1976 when Israeli security forces responded to a general strike and mass protest organised by Palestinian citizens of Israel whose land had been confiscated. In that peaceful protest, six Palestinians were killed and a hundred more wounded by the Israeli military.

Pi=65 yrs

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, matters have always been much worse, since all forms of nonviolent Palestinian resistance were banned right after the 1967 War. Political meetings, raising flags or other national symbols, publishing or distributing articles or pictures with political connotations, or even singing or listening to nationalist songs – not to mention organising strikes and demonstrations – were illegal until 1993 (and some are still illegal in Area C). Any attempt to protest in one of these ways was inevitably met with violence.

One may wish it was otherwise – and I most certainly do – but not a single colonial project has ended without the colonised resorting to violence against their oppressors.

Just three months after the 1967 War, the Palestinians successfully launched a widespread school strike in the West Bank; teachers refused to show up for work, children took to the streets to protest the occupation, and many shopkeepers did not open their stores. In response to these acts of civil disobedience, Israel enforced severe police-style measures, ranging from nightly curfews and other restrictions of movement to cutting off telephone lines, detaining leaders, and increasing the harassment of the population. This, in many ways, became Israel’s modus operandi when dealing with Palestinian continued nonviolent resistance.

Indeed, it seems that there is widespread social amnesia regarding Israel’s reaction to Gandhi-style tactics. When Palestinians launched commercial strikes in the West Bank, the military government shut down dozens of shops “until further notice.” When they tried to emulate Martin Luther King’s transportation strike, the security forces completely immobilised the local fleet of buses. Moreover, during the first Intifada, the Palestinians adopted massive civil disobedience strategies, including merchant strikes, boycotting Israeli goods, a tax revolt, and daily protests against the occupying forces. Israel responded by imposing curfews, restricting freedom of movement and mass incarcerations (to name only some of the violent measures). Between 1987 and 1994, for example, the secret services interrogated more than 23,000 Palestinians, one out of every 100 people living in the West Bank and Gaza. We now know that many of them were tortured.

Thus, the tragedy is that Gaza’s Passover massacre simply joins this long list of nonviolent resistance that has, historically, been met with violence and repression by Israel.
‘Riots are the language of the unheard’


Let’s imagine for a moment what it means to live in an open-air prison, year after year. Let’s imagine that we are the prisoners and the warden has the power to decide what food we can eat, when we have electricity, when we can receive specialised medical treatment and whether we can have enough water to drink. Let’s also imagine that any time we walk near the fence, we become targets for the guards. What acts of nonviolent resistance are actually open to us? Would you walk peacefully towards the fence? Thousands of Palestinians courageously did, and many paid the ultimate price.


Even though Gaza is, in many respects, unique, indigenous people have, historically, found themselves in similar situations. This was recognised by the United Nations, when it affirmed “the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.” Gandhi himself thought that in certain instances violence was an adequate strategic choice.


One may wish it was otherwise – and I most certainly do – but not a single colonial project has ended without the colonised resorting to violence against their oppressors. Requesting for or even angrily demanding liberation has never done the job.


Ironically, this is also one of the key messages of the Passover Seder. The story of Exodus recounts how Moses approached Pharaoh several times, asking him to liberate the children of Israel from bondage. Yet, again and again, Pharaoh refused. It was only after horrific violence was deployed against the Egyptians that the Israelites were set free.


This, to be sure, is not something we should ever wish for, but when one looks at Israel’s response to the nonviolent Palestinian march, what is clear is that we must urgently find a way to turn the Zionists’ question on its head in order to prevent future bloodshed. Rather than asking when the Palestinians will produce a Mahatma Gandhi, we need to ask when Israel will produce a leader that does not support the subjugation of the Palestinians through the employment of lethal violence? When, in other words, will Israel finally rid itself of its Pharaonic ethos and realise that Palestinians have a right to freedom.



Not my Israel

April 6, 2018

The fallout from Israel’s unprovoked massacre of 1t Gazans continues to reverberate in many quarters. Israel’s contempt for Palestinian life is finally becoming obvious to much of the world which had frequently fallen for its masterfully cynical propaganda. Those days are over and many Jews in the diaspora are breaking ranks and speaking painful truths.


PI Whitewash


Here in Toronto one Israeli’s disgust with his former home found its way into print, a letter to the Toronto Star, April 4, 2018

This is not my Israel

I do not recognize my birthplace and childhood home. I was raised with the narrative that Israel was a safe haven for persecuted Jews from around the world — a sanctuary.


What I see now is a racist, cruel and destructive country intent on punishing refugees, demonizing Indigenous Palestinians and carrying a messianic zealotry I would ascribe to totalitarian regimes. This is not my Israel.


Like so many other disillusioned Zionists, I grabbed a piece of hope on Passover and Easter, when Israel announced it had reached a deal to allow its African refugee community to stay or be resettled. A few hours later, the government of Israel suddenly announced it was rescinding this compromise, and would be looking at deporting these refugees forcibly.


This is just another reflection of the heartlessness that is now sewn into the cultural fabric of Israel.

Avi Zer-Aviv, Toronto


The Toronto Star periodically will publish letters critical of Israel, particularly from diaspora Jews critical of this rogue state. The above letter of Mr. Zer-Aviv is one such example.


Sometimes, maybe once a month, a similarly critical oped will be printed. Never will the Star editorialize about the rampant injustice and racism prevalent there.




The Star has always operated on the Atkinson principles of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. But it always very wary of offending Israel-firsters in the Jewish community and for good reason. If you poke this bear, there will immediately be an economic attack on the newspaper, threatening dire consequences. Newspapers can not risk this.


One can have sympathy with a print organ like the Star avoiding such a situation in these days of folding dailies. Similarly, the CBC must be very careful in this regard, and it is. Ditto the rabbis of major temples who know what is going on so most avoid the topic. A rabbi friend of mine told me the reason I am having trouble engaging these worthies is that most agree with me. Israel has become its worst enemy.




In the waning days of Zionism, there are many in the Jewish community, as there are in most Christian communities where tribalism has supplanted the prophetic impulse. The radical voice of justice ”the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor” as rabbi Heschel said about the prophets is sadly lacking in all the Abrahamic faiths today. Such religion will as the prophets like Jeremiah, Jesus, Gandhi and King showed, get you in deep trouble. It may even claim your life.




Bravo for Mr Zer-Aviv for speaking his truth in public.


Israel at 70

April 5, 2018



There is an increasing awareness around the globe and within the Jewish community that Israel and Zionism are in a dark place.The latest massacre of nonviolent protesters on Good Friday is simply another reminder of how cheap and wothless Palestinian blood is.As gideon Levy writes in his latest column: This is what the nation wants and this is what it will get. Even if soldiers kill hundreds of demonstrators in Gaza, Israel will not bat an eyelid. The reason: evil and hatred of Arabs.




For generations the Israeli narrative, internalized by much of the world, is coming to an inglorious end. Christian guilt over the Nazi holocaust gave the state of Israel a virtual free pass.The fact that the new state was built on the backs of innocent indigenous Palestinians was never admitted. This is the original sin of Zionism. There has never been any acknowledgement of the horrific suffering occasioned by the Nakba, the catastrophic dispossession of Palestinian people from their homeland.


As the decades passed and as the exiled inhabitants lived in squalor, the best educated members of the Arab world, gradually found their voice, but an adamantine Israel continued to ignore the massive suffering of those Palestinians who still lived in Gaza, the West bank and east Jerusalem. History however has caught up with Israel. Jews of conscience, nourished by those traditional humanist values shared by all the Abrahamic faiths, could no longer turn away from the obvious discrimination and oppression visited upon the original inhabitants.


Pi=65 yrs


Zionism was always a bad idea. The transplanting of Russian and Polish Jews into a largely Musilim world was bound to come to no good. The great lie of simply wanting a homeland slowly became evident to the original inhabitants. Zionists wanted all of this historical land as a Jewish state. They succeeded but a terrible price—the massive injustice done to the indigenous people who were innocent of the holocaust crime.




The prophetic never dies. It always bubbles up from the depths of humanity and so it has today. Israel will never disappear. it is a fact of life with so many gifts to offer the world but occupation of another people is not one of those gifts.

Here is the first article, the slow tolling of a bell which is a wake up call to modern israel which it will ignore to its own peril. Bradley Burston is a respected Haaretz columnist as well Senior Editor of Haaretz.com


This Is Zionism as Racism. This Is Israel at 70

It hurts me to write what I’m about to. But it also hurts me to live in this place today. To open my eyes and see what’s right here and right now.

Bradley Burston Apr 04, 2018




It hurts me to write what I’m about to. But it also hurts me to live in this place today. To open my eyes and see what’s right here, right now.This is Zionism as racism. This is Israel at 70.

This is a country which so demeans and dismisses and conflates Palestinian lives, that after a horrendous casualty rate in massive demonstrations at the Gaza border over the weekend, Eli Hazan, a spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, referred to the men, women, children and elderly protesters camped hundreds of meters from the border fence, and told i24 News Monday without flinching:

“All 30,000 are legitimate targets.”


This is a country whose ruling officials go to great lengths to proudly trumpet their insensitivity and capacity to bully, steamroll, silence and marginalize those whose opinions or ethnicities or religious affiliations don’t dovetail with the government’s smug, narrow, boilerplate conception of what is acceptable as Israeli. …


In Israel at 70, Zionism means a government of the racist, by the racist, for the racist. As a public servant, as an Orthodox rabbi, as a settler, you’re free to say anything you want, as long as it’s anti-Arab, anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian, anti-immigrant, and, for good measure, anti-Ashkenazi, anti-North American Jew, anti-New Israel Fund and, in general, anti-leftist of all stripes.




The settler who tears out a Palestinian farmer’s olive trees by the roots is a Zionist all the way. So is the settler who sics his dogs on a Palestinian shepherd’s flock. So is the settler or the soldier who opens fire on an unarmed Palestinian and goes scot-free. So is the American ambassador who donates to the settler and who brands the majority of his fellow American Jews – the liberal ones – as Kapos.

So is the settler activist who calls Barack Obama “the kushi” (the darkie, or the n-word). So is the Likud activist who uses the same word to describe all African asylum seekers.


So is the rightist who – asked about the fact that two million Gazans live with next to no electricity, next to no drinking water, no sewage treatment, meager food, no opportunity to work, no opportunity to leave, no citizenship, no rights  – replies, “They have it coming to them.”

All of them.


For sheer, unadulterated, mega-manipulative, ostensibly Zionist bigotry and hatred, though, no one can touch Benjamin Netanyahu.


In recent years he’s hammered away with racist and mendacious incitement against Arab citizens of Israel and African asylum seekers as supposed security threats.
On Tuesday night he surpassed himself.


Taking a leaf from the coded Jew-hatred of European proto-fascists and the pro-Trump alt-right, going all-out to boost and leverage hate against blacks and leftists and American Jews and destroy the High Court of Justice and divert blame to get himself off the hook for incompetence, he dog-whistled the name of Holocaust survivor and left-leaning philanthropist George Soros in an unprecedented assault on the New Israel Fund.


“The overarching goal of the Fund is the obliteration of the Jewish character of Israel, and turning it into a state of all its citizens,” lied Netanyahu, adding that he planned to have his burly Knesset puppet David Amsalem open a Roy Cohn-esque probe of NIF, which he said “endangers Israel’s security and future.”


Don’t get me wrong. I understand where much of this comes from. Jews of all ethnicities bear the scars and the genetic memory of every manner of heinous racism, up to and including genocide.


It’s all too true, at the same time, that in a tragic given of human nature, the abused is at great risk of becoming an abuser.


In the case of Zionism, can the victims of anti-Semitism come to acknowledge their – our – own bigotry, our own ingrained prejudices, our own sense of superiority and entitlement, our own history of injustice to the minorities in their midst?


Until that happens, to paraphrase Ben-Gurion, it doesn’t matter what the non-Jews say, or what the UN General Assembly resolves on the question of whether Zionism is racism or not. It matters what the Jews do. And, in our heart of hearts, we all know what those who run Israel, and those who pressure them, are doing right now.


This is Israel at 70. This is Zionism as racism.